There are a few variations of pastelles. Below is the typical recipe for a traditional Trinidadian dish. Making pastelles can be quite the under taking and many people opt to make these Caribbean cornmeal concoctions in bulk and preserve the rest by freezing them for future consumption. The pastelle process primarily consists of several steps that include placing a cornmeal dough on top of a fig leaf, adding a meat filling (or vegetarian alternative) to the dough, wrapping and tying the fig leaf with filling up in a nice packet and boiling for 45 minutes. Sounds easy; however, the prepping phases of pastelles is where many people get tied up.
This recipe makes 12-15 pastelles.
Step One: Preparing the Meat Filling
-1 pound chopped beef and chicken, chicken only, or beef only2 onions, finely chopped
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1 cup chopped chives
-1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme
-2 pimento peppers, chopped
-4 cloves garlic, chopped
-1 tablespoons chopped celery
-1/2 Congo pepper, seeded and chopped *this is optional*1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
-1 teaspoon salt
-1/4 cup tomato sauce
-4 tablespoons capers
-3 tablespoons stuffed olives, slice them please
-1/4 cup raisins
-2 tablespoons fresh thyme
1. Combine beef with chicken. Add salt and black pepper.
2. Add a quarter-cup chopped chives and one tablespoon thyme.
3. In a large saute pan heat olive oil.
4. Add onion and garlic. Saute until fragrant.
5. Add pimento peppers, remaining chive, pepper and thyme.
6. Add meat and cook until brown.
7. Add tomato sauce, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.
8. Add raisins, capers and olives and stir to combine.
9. Cook for about five minutes more. Taste and adjust seasoning.
10. Add two tablespoons fresh thyme and stir to combine.
11. Remove from heat and cool.
12. Prepare dough as in recipe above and fill and fold pastelles as indicated.
You can use these same steps to prepare a vegetarian variation, just leave out the meat or substitute with tofu.
Step Two: Preparing the Cornmeal Dough
-2 cups yellow cornmeal
-3 cups warm water (not tepid, lukewarm or room temperature. If in doubt boil the water first and leave it to cool for 5-10 minutes)
-1/2 cup butter
-1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1. In a food processor or by hand, combine cornmeal with butter and salt.
2. Add water and process to make soft, pliable dough.
3. Divide the dough into 12 balls. Cover with a damp cloth to prevent drying.
Step Three: Putting it all Together
To prepare fig leaves, steam them in a large pot of boiling water for ten minutes until they become pliable and soft. They may also be softened by waving them over an open flame. You can also use sheets of tin foil (however, the fig leaf method produces better results). One fig leaf per pastelle – you should make sure to have enough fig leaves on hand to produce the quantity of pastelles you want to make.
1. Place one piece of dough on a greased fig leaf and press into an eight-inch square.
2. Spoon two tablespoons of filling onto the middle of the dough and fold and seal pastelles.
3. Wrap in fig leaf and tie into a neat package and tie off with bakers string. (you can also use foil)
4. Steam pastelles for 45 minutes until cooked.
As previously mentioned, pastelle can be frozen and kept for long lengths of time. When ready to eat, just pull out the freezer and boil for 45 minutes. This recipe is great for sharing.
If you would like to kick up the recipe a little, try adding Caribbean Trading Company’s Spicy Pepper Steak Seasoning to the recipe or any of our other gourmet blends. While you are at it, garnish with one of our famous hot sauces for a complete meal.